BANNING A 104 YEAR OLD WOMAN FROM CHURCH SIMPLY STRIKES ME AS MEAN!
This is happening in Elberton, Georgia about 70 miles from Augusta, Georgia's marble and granite Capitol. This is from the Augusta Chronicle:
ELBERTON, Ga. -- Members of Union Grove Baptist Church in Elberton recently revoked the membership of a 103-year-old woman from its flock saying she cannot attend the church “for any reason what so ever.”
“I was unhappy and shocked,” said Genora Hamm Biggs, who received a letter regarding her expulsion. “I joined the church when I was 11 years old.”
Despite the Aug. 2 admonition from the Rev. Tim Mattox of Athens, Deacon Glen Jackson of Elberton, and nine others who signed the letter, she returned to church the next Sunday. Someone in the church called the Elberton police. But the responding officer took no action calling it a civil matter.
The pastor then dismissed the service. The lights were turned off and Biggs, a member for 92 years, was left sitting on the pew of a darkened sanctuary.
Biggs, a retired school teacher who taught first grade for 40 years in Elbert County, plans to be back in church this Sunday. The Rev. Mattox was even one of her former pupils.
Also banned from the church was Biggs’ grandson, Eliott Dye, who has been a member for 30 years, and Kevin Hamm, an ordained minister who was also a member of the church.
“I tried to talk with (Mattox) and he was just determined to say ‘you can’t come over here’ period,” Hamm said.
Mattox did not return a telephone call from the Banner-Herald regarding the church’s stance.
The core of the problem, according to Biggs, is that Union Grove Baptist has been a Baptist church throughout its history. However, she described Mattox as a holiness preacher with a different doctrine.
“He is a holy sanctified minister or so he says. We voted him in and we didn’t know it until he was there. We are Baptists and that’s what we want to stay,” Biggs said.
Hamm said he was upset when he received a letter, but was particularly upset that Biggs was banned.
“To disrespect a pillar and a mother of the church. How can we sit back and watch something like this go forward,” Hamm said.
Current Union Grove deacon Glen Jackson of Elberton said Thursday that those who signed the letter will not comment on Biggs’ removal.
“The church decided not to comment because it’s all a bunch of foolishness,” he said.
Asked about her nearly lifelong membership in the church, Jackson said, “It don’t mean nothing.”
Other longtime members of the church have left Union Grove during the unrest and new members have joined.
Ezell Land, a former deacon who joined when he was 12 years old, said he left as did others, including the church musician.
“Me and him had some words,” Land said about the pastor. “I’ve got a temper and I know me. I’d rather just go on out because I didn’t want no problems at church.”
Biggs urged him not leave, Land said.
A story about Biggs’ ouster was printed recently in the Elberton Star and it had people all over town talking, Land said.
Biggs has always been a head-strong woman, according to those who know her.
“Mrs. Biggs is a good person. She is a determined person. She’s always been for the right thing. You won’t always like what she has to say, but she was for the right,” said Mary Dean of Elberton. “If you’re wrong, she’ll tell you. That’s the way she always was.
“To say Union Grove without mentioning Genora H. Biggs would not be correct,” said the Rev. James Clickscales, who pastored the church from 1989-1996 and is retired from the Elbert County school system.
“She was a leader in the church and the most committed member. She was elderly then, but you wouldn’t have known it,” said Clinkscales, who resides in Anderson, S.C., and pastors a Baptist church.
Even Elberton Police Chief Mark Welsh described her as a “well-revered person” in town,” but he said the issue at the church is civil in nature.
“We’re not going over there and throwing a 103-year-old lady out of her church,” Welsh said.
During one church service, Dye said a woman in the church called his grandmother “Jezebel,” a term with negative connotations for Christians. But Biggs didn’t hear the reference, Dye said.
“I never told her because her feelings would have been hurt,” Dye said. “They have been so rude and I don’t understand why it’s been directed at my grandmother. My grandmother can be pretty outspoken and that could have a lot to do with it.”
The Union Grove letter still stings, according to Biggs. “Any membership or associations that you have had with this church are now officially revoked,” Biggs is told in the letter.
But the centenarian still considers herself a member.
“One woman talking to me this morning told me to stick to my guns,” she said.